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A chowhound's return to CT

I've just moved home to fairfield county after 20 years in LA. The only thing I liked about LA was the amazing variety of fantastic cheap eats: from Vietnamese Pho to taco trucks that served cuts of meat I'd never had before (sure you can pay $30 for stewed beef cheeks at Craft, but how about $1.25 for a beef cheek taco!).

Please chime in on recs from New Haven to Westchester. Would love to explore what the area has to offer.


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  1. Take a ride to Yale New Haven Hospital main entrance on York St. at lunch time. There's about a dozen food carts, great, cheap and ethnic.

    1. Take a ride into Port Chester. Main Street and the surrounding blocks is filled with all kinds of little Latin places.

      1. Mamoun's Falafel in New Haven. Still open after all these years, still pretty cheap ($12ish for a full platter of food with meat kebabs, $5ish for a falafel pita sandwich) and still open till 3 AM.

        And Valencia Luncheria on Main Ave in Norwalk. "Venezuelan Beach Food" is what they call it, and it's magnificent. Dozens of different kinds of Empanadas and Arepas, most for less than $5.

        1. Colony Pizza in Stamford. I'll second the Valencia rec as well - its really good.

          1. Hi and welcome east. Again. First two things. Don't expect to find the kind of variety (or standard of quality) in either the asian food or mexican food. Good food from both to be found in the boroughs, but in these parts the pickings aren't as bountiful.

            So, starting with your first cuisine mentioned. There's really no Vietnamese north of the City. Pretty much at all. Certainly not anything worth talking. No banh mi or real pho. Certainly nothing like Westminster in Orange County.

            For Mexican, the choices around here are better than Vietnamese. The best Mexican I've found are in either Port Chester, as someone mentioned above, and New Rochelle. You'll find lots and lots of posts on places in those area. My new favorite place is la herradura in new rochelle. hand made tortillas... very good. But loads of good recent posts on places there.

            With the mexican though, you won't find the regional variety you get in LA. No oaxacan or yucatecan places worth noting, for example. But at least you can get competent mexican, which not too long ago wasn't the case.

            But life isn't all that bad. While the pizza options in these parts gets trashed a lot, that's because they are compared relative ot NYC and haven't tried the typical pizzeria in southern california (pizzeria mozza and other notables aside). Even the pizza at my local place in stamford is far ahead of what I used to get back home in CA. And that's true of most of the neighborhood delis, bakeries and trattorias I've found.

            good luck, welcome back and we look forward to your own local reports!

            1. Colony Grill, Pepe's (Fairfield, NH), Sally's, Carminuccio's, Letizia's, Coffe An' Donuts, S&S Dugout (rare roast beef), Louis Lunch, Yankee Doodle, Modern Appiza, Libby's (pastry), Orem's Diner, Super Duper Weenie, ENJOY!!!

              1. oysters at the bar at ocean 211 in stamford, lobster roll at rowayton seafood restaurant, burger at rory's in darien and hot oil pizza with pepperoni at colony grill in stamford should welcome you back in style.

                1. Welcome to the neighborhood.

                  Pizza - Sallys in NH and Colony in stm are the two best
                  Hot Dogs - jfood loves Super Duper Weenie (fairfield x 24 i-95), swanky franks (norwalk x 15 i-95) and chez leaonard (downtown ridgefield)
                  Hole in the wall italian - Giovanni 4 on north st in stamford
                  Sandwiches - The Lime on Main St in Norwalk

                  When you get settled and have more specific questions, please post. we're a friendly chow-crowd.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: jfood

                    jfood. Have you tried the hot dogs at Top Dog in Greenwich (cos cob)? I've still not gone to swanky franks (shame on me), but I do like top dog. I also like their onion rings. But curious if other folks have gone and if it even holds a candle to swany's or super duper...

                    1. re: adamclyde

                      no but will add to the lunch list which now includes

                      - top dog
                      - burger shakes and fries
                      - strada 18 (pizza)
                      - bj ryans

                      1. re: adamclyde

                        Dogs are good at Top Dog, I'd rate it equal to or above Swanky's and a notch below Super Duper, Rawley's.

                        1. re: adamclyde

                          I think I prefer Swanky Franks over Top Dog.
                          I have yet to try one at Burger Shakes and Fries, but the malted was yummilicious.

                          1. re: scharffenberger

                            ah. does burgers shakes and fries sell hot dogs?

                            good to know...

                      2. Not a challenge, Frankbooth, but what is it about Orems Diner ? Also, for adamclyde, I'm glad someone else is discovering JBRyans...and swankys blows top dog away in my humble judgement...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: suzyrose

                          Jfood agrees on Orem's. He used to have an office a nine-iron away and no one in the office would eat there. But with jfood coming from NJ, the state whose state flower is the diner, there are none that jfood can point to.

                          1. re: suzyrose

                            you are right, nothing really special about orem's, it's just a classic roadfood type diner that can do the job. but you are right, it's nothing like a Mastori's diner or any of the jersey greats...

                            1. re: suzyrose

                              Hey, as someone that also worked a nine-iron ( I think, I'm not much of a golfer, but am putting 2 +2 together) away from Orem's. I really liked it. Their soups are decent and so are the salads, better than other fairfield county diners anyway (Penney's and Silver star (? on Ct Ave) disappoint me every time. I haven't been there in about a year, but spent a few years having lunch their every Friday with co-workers who liked the food. But it is just a diner and I can't compare it to Jersey diners.

                              1. re: SweetPea914

                                Yes, chicken noodle soup at Orem's is going to work. nicely.

                            2. In Fairfield County a very high concentration of interesting restaurants will be found in Bridgeport. There are over ten Brazilian restaurants, there are more than ten West Indian restaurants, and the number of Mexican places is approaching double digits. Not bad for a small city. Off the top of my head you can also find authentic Colombian, Salvadoran, Ivory Coast, Ecuadorian, Italian, and Puerto Rican.

                              Bridgeport gets very little love in this forum but without a doubt it is a chowhound gem.

                              If you feel like taking a nice drive north I recommend Carole Peck's Good News Cafe in Woodbury.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: JohnnyCT

                                JohnnyCT, would love to hear more about the Bport restaurants: names, locations, recommendations, etc.

                                1. re: cteats

                                  Big 2nd on that... I'm a CA/OR/AZ transplant living in Stratford. I've explored New Haven and fouond some good eats there (BAR, Barcelona, Cafe Adoulis, etc), but nothing too great in Stratford.

                                  Do tell about the ethnic cuisines in Bridgeport. Puerto Vallarta in Stratford just doesn't cut it... in fact, it's horrible. Where shall I try next?

                                2. re: JohnnyCT

                                  like cteats, I too would love to hear some of your top recs of those places.

                                  By the way, didn't you find a good Honduran restaurant recently? Was that in Fairfield county? Can't recall offhand.

                                  1. re: adamclyde

                                    adamclyde, I am not very up on Honduran food, but a close family friend is from Honduras and moved to Stamford a year or so ago, if you are looking for good Honduran eats I can see if he has any recs.

                                    1. re: SweetPea914

                                      yes, please do. I'm pretty sure there's no honduran in lower fairfield or my side of westchester (port chester/new rochelle). But there very well may be one up in bridgeport, danbury or down the way toward yonkers or something... not sure. I'd love to find out.

                                      1. re: adamclyde

                                        I finally spoke to my cousin, her fiance is the one from Honduras. She said they have yet to find a Honduran restaurant. She wrote that the closest they have found are the El Salvadorian or Guatemalan restaurants in Stamford and PC. Sorry I couldn't be more help.

                                    2. re: adamclyde

                                      For a very long time it has been my intention to do a proper report on the Brazilian and West Indian chow scenes in Bport. The plan is to start a thread for each cuisine including street address, favorites, and maybe some pics. However, the pressures of working full-time and going to school at night have kept me from completing this little project. Since there is a new chowhound interest in the port I promise to start these threads very soon.

                                      I'm always looking for Honduran food. My significant other is Honduran and since she is in Asia until January my lonesome self occasionally haunts Honduran restaurants because they remind me of her. As far as I know there are none in CT. It is strange because there are more than enough Hondurans to support a restaurant or two, Bport and Norwalk are both stops for touring Honduran bands, and there is a small, growing community of Hondurans by way of Bronx/Harlem in Waterbury.

                                  2. Thanks for all your recs! When I was eating at Pepe's I spoke to a bunch of the guys on break and they recommended a Mexican place in Bridgeport called Mi Rancho (2754 Fairfield Ave). It's in the style of Puebla cuisine and I thought it was fantastic. I'm going to post a separate review. Sure we like to find great burgers and dogs in LA, but gems like Mi Rancho are the holy grail of LA Chow!

                                    1. Bereket Turkish Restaurant 4031 Main Street, Bridgeport

                                      Food is excellent. The place is a hole in the wall behind a gas station, so for colder months is better for takeout. There are two tables in a very small space, and a couple of stools at a counter in the window. However, in the warmer weather, you can sit outside at tables in back. So close to traffic, and yet so far away:) They have their own garden, so at end of summer the tomatoes are fresh as fresh can be.

                                      1 Reply